Chapter 37: Rhys

I’d thought my sister would be more grateful for her first-ever recurring role on a new television show, but I was wrong. She never once thanked me for agreeing to a salary cut in exchange for her being cast.

I’d also expected more appreciation for the acting profession, considering our mother and grandmother’s prominence in the San Myshuno theater community, but instead she treated our scenes together like an improv game at her first summer of drama camp, complete with a teenager’s love of hearing herself curse.

Disrespecting the writers’ scripts was a surefire way to end up on their bad side, with a future of asinine plotlines if you weren’t killed off entirely. Writers may never share an actor’s spotlight, but they still took pride in their work. …Generally.

Blood and Bishops clearly wasn’t working with top-tier writing talent, but it was my job as an actor to do what I could with the material. And now I needed to do scenes in the mortuary of a funeral home; fortunately, my sister wasn’t in them.

The funeral home itself had a faintly off-putting smell, but the sights… “Who is that?”

My assistant answered me, though I hadn’t been expecting her to. “Oh, that’s just my cousin Ophelia.”

My gaze wouldn’t leave this Ophelia’s face. Or maybe it drifted just slightly lower. I’d slept with plenty of beautiful women–many of them far more beautiful than her–and yet…

“Are you related to every reasonably attractive woman in Starlight Shores?” I demanded. I’d sworn off the friends and relatives of anyone who worked for me, after that last disastrous experience with my previous personal assistant’s stepsister.

This one’s sister had been beautiful, even more so than this girl at the desk, but I hadn’t found myself particularly drawn to her. I preferred women with more fire and darker hair–among other things.

“Don’t think so.” My assistant apparently enjoyed answering rhetorical questions. “I won’t punch you in the balls if you hit on her or whatever. She’s pretty weird, but as long as it’s not Lyanna…you can have her.”

Whatever mild interest I had in that sister of hers had evaporated the moment I walked through the door of that funeral home.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” said the dark-haired goddess behind the front desk, bathed in a gentle glow as she smiled sympathetically at me.

Oh. She was talking to me. “Ah–yes, thank you.” …Why did I thank her? I should’ve told her I was part of the shoot… But she should’ve recognized me. Unless someone in my family had died, and she’d seen something on her phone–

“Actors,” Ms. Chick muttered in a nearby hall. “Fucking actors. Not even actors! Extras. Fuck ‘em all.” She stomped up to the front desk before I could ask about any of my own possible personal tragedies. “Hey sweetheart, how would you like to get your big break?”

“But my novel’s not finished yet,” said the goddess. “I still have to plumb the depths of my murky well of inspiration…”

“How about you pretend you fell down a well and ended up as a corpse, because that’s what we need right now. All you have to do is lie down on a table and stay real still.”

“An embalming table?”

“You got it, sister.”

I’ll do it.” Was there a sudden rosiness to those near-alabaster cheeks…?

I’d always (after Young, Haught and Rich and two made-for-TV movies) made a rule of never sleeping with an actress I worked with, but could I make an exception for a one-off extra, should she feel so inclined…?

No, I needed to focus on my performance. Questionable legality aside, I quickly approved of the funeral home set we were shooting on. The authenticity helped me quickly get into character, along with my coroner costume.

By day, my character–Dr. Roland Redgrave–investigated mysterious deaths, checking corpses for signs of vampire attack. By night, he hunted those vampire assailants–and defeated them with nothing more than his own ingenuity…in a game of chess. I didn’t understand, but Roland Redgrave clearly must.

It felt strange to be in front of a camera again, and already I could feel the pressure mounting.

But the extra–this strangely alluring goddess–appeared completely at ease, as though she’d done this countless times before. Bare-faced and wearing nothing more than a simple medical gown (if she were a real corpse and this were cable, she’d be wearing nothing at all), she followed Ms. Chick’s instructions and lay down on the cold metal table.

Yes, I preferred her natural appearance… And even on her back, I could still admire the full scope of her…talent.

Leering at an actress in a professional setting…you’re just like your father. Clearly you don’t respect women.

But I’m admiring her, Mom, I wanted to say. It’s different, isn’t it?

It was important to consider her character in relation to mine as well. What if she was someone he knew, and secretly loved? Should I allow that deeper anguish to seep into my performance, or would Roland manage to hide it from the world? He was a serious, practical man.

When the cameras started rolling, I let that backstory influence my performance. My hands lingered on her bare skin a half-second longer than necessary (all Roland Redgrave would permit himself, to maintain a coroner’s efficiency) as I adjusted the positioning of her arms.

“Barely warm,” I said, a grave expression on my handsome face. “This can only be the work of a vampire.”

But her skin had been very, very warm. Flushed, even. Was she excited, being in the presence of a famous actor?

My love…I shall avenge you, Dr. Roland Redgrave vowed in my mind. “I will destroy the ones responsible–with chess.”

Was she listening as she lay there? Did she approve of my acting, or did she think it was too much Acting with a capital A? Could she detect the authenticity in my performance, and if she wasn’t a fan before, was she a fan now?

Another needy little boy. Why do you want everyone to love you, Rhys?

And then the scene ended. “Cut,” Ms. Chick said from her chair in the corner, not looking up from her phone.

“Blood,” the goddess said, slowly sitting up on the embalming table. “I need blood…”

“Spoken like a true vampiress,” I said. It was always good for a celebrity to seem approachable, and if she ever spoke about me to her friends or posted about me online, she could tell everyone what a down-to-earth and surprisingly humorous actor I was.

“I am now a dark mistress of the night. I need to feed and feel the flow of hot, crimson nectar down my parched throat…”

She slid off the table and turned to look at me with vacant eyes. “Come to me, human. Let me drink my fill of you…”

“Dev, did you get all that?” Ms. Chick said, smirking in the corner. “I think we found our new lady vampire. Bet she works cheap, too–and this is one less scene we’ll have to shoot later.”

“Sure did,” the cameraman said.

“Are you guys done yet?” my assistant demanded, clearly unimpressed by her cousin’s impromptu performance. Was she blind to sheer brilliance?

But I was impressed. If this had been one of my father’s productions, I would’ve gladly let her have her fill of me right there on the embalming table.

…But Blood and Bishops would air on network television, if the pilot was picked up. And now that I knew this goddess would be joining me…it had to air. I watched as Ms. Chick called her over, though the former seemed more interested in a small dog that had appeared out of nowhere.

She couldn’t see the way my goddess’s alabaster skin peeked out the back of her medical gown…

Filthy mind, just like his. She didn’t ask for you to fuck her with your eyes.

I would never lay a hand on her without her permission, I wanted to say. But if she invited my touch, I’d cast aside that medical gown in an instant…

“You in there, boss?” my assistant said, staring at me with that stubborn, creepy face. “Need some coffee?”

“I need a cold shower,” I said.

“Yeah, you can bathe your own damn self.”

“Do you have her number?” I swallowed. “Your cousin’s.”

“I could ask her for it, I guess. Or you could ask her–she’s standing right over there. Pretty creepy to get somebody else to do it…”

“A celebrity can’t do anything himself or he’s no longer a celebrity,” I scoffed. “It’s the law of the stars.” Why was I so enthralled? She wasn’t a vampire, but could she be fae? There had to be some sort of explanation for the strength of this instant attraction…

My father would probably know. But he preferred blondes like my mother, obviously. Was that the reason I avoided them? I’d have to discuss that with Dr. Puck during our next session.

When my goddess walked away to type frantically on a computer–probably some important funeral home business–I approached Ms. Chick. “So,” I said, feigning disinterest. “She’ll be taking part in the show? You must have a lot of faith in her acting ability.”

“Her? Yeah, right. I just love this adorable little shit,” she said. “And we need a replacement for Yolanda ASAP.”

“…Oh.”

Clearly she didn’t have the discerning eye that I did. But I was the talent, and she was the money. I already knew that this Ophelia would be a star–hopefully at my side.

You’re just like your father. My mother’s words slithered around in my mind like a serpent. A child who wants things.

But she’s my muse, I wanted to say. All the best artists have muses… But I wasn’t the best, and I hadn’t been in a very long time–if I ever was at all.

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23 thoughts on “Chapter 37: Rhys

  1. Loved this one!

    I guess Rhys is more like his father than he realizes… those Blackwell women… (okay technically Lyons, but still 😛 )

    Rhys and Ophelia are actually two who I could see working together as a couple. They both have this air of drama/theatrics around them (him more than her of course haha) and yet they’re both kind and well-meaning beneath it all. I’m still on the Ophelia and Finn ship, but Rhys and Ophelia actually feels realistic so I wouldn’t be opposed if it happened haha

    I wonder if Isla’s voice was just his imagination, or if he actually has some kind of fae connection to her… either way, that was very interesting to see!

    On a totally unrelated note, I love that Rhys took a pay cut so Gal could get hired. And he does have a point — her behavior really is childish and unprofessional. (I still love her and found it hysterical, I’m just thinking more realistically right now…. and agreeing with Rhys :P)

    Yay for another Straud Sibling chapter!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, I still consider Ophelia a Blackwell woman even if she’s technically a Lyons…she’s Bianca Blackwell’s daughter, all right. 😉

      You’re right that they’re both very dramatic–and that they do mean well, even if they’re both kind of creepy and weird in their own ways.

      As for Isla’s voice, that’s definitely his imagination–though whether those are things she’s actually said or just his own guilt and self-loathing is another matter. (He definitely gets a lot of mileage out of Dr. Puck.)

      Gal’s behavior was totally childish and unprofessional, so I’m with you and Rhys on that. As much as a diva as he can be, he really does take ~the art of acting~ very seriously.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s such an interesting characteristic the Straud kids all share. They all have so much insecurity and issues of self-worth… and issues with love too. Gal thinks she’s fat and unloveable. Finn thinks he’s unworthy of love too. And now we see that Rhys compares himself to his father (whom he obviously doesn’t view favorably, likely due to Isla’s influence haha)

        It’s so sad… but this is why they’re my faves 😂❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s enough insecurity to go around…! Rhys wants someone to love him but thinks they’ll lose interest the moment they see past his ~actor~ facade, Finn is afraid to love anyone or feel too deeply, and Gal doesn’t think anyone can love her and tries to push them away to prove herself right. Bit of a mess there, but you enjoy suffering. 😉

        Rhys misses his dad but still considers Finn going with him as a kind of betrayal, and has cut off all contact out of consideration for his mom. But he would’ve gotten along with him great…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think Ophelia has found her tortured soul who’s dramatic enough to give her the dark, twisted romance she’s always wanted. I just hope she won’t turn him down because he’s a fae and not a vampire. And there’s the fact that he’s the twin brother of her fuck buddy to consider. These entangled webs are getting more and more interesting! 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. 😈😈😈

      Unlike Finn, Rhys throws himself into ~passionate love affairs~ with wild abandon. And tortured is right, thanks to Grisla and growing up as an actor.

      But you’re right that she’d have to look past him being fae when she has her heart set on a vampire…and he’d have to look past all the “research” his brother has done with his goddess.

      So glad you’re enjoying this crazy web. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My God that Chick woman has a mouth on her (and she’s ballsy). I approve. 😝

    Rhys reminded me of a toned down version of Graham here. He’s way more considerate than Graham and that’s obviously Isla’s influence on him. Graham wouldn’t think at all about others. He’s Graham. It’s all about him. But Rhys is very thoughtful. He checks his womanizing ways. He’s also very considerate of Gal. Was that look she gave him because he told her he got that job for her?

    I wonder what Ophelia thinks about him. Maybe she’s oblivious aboit his attraction. I loved her reaction to being a corpse and how she turned into a vampire. She definitely was acting on her ultimate wishes there. Too bad Rhys isn’t a vampire. He would turn her without question.

    Rhys gave a clue, I think about the Lyons’ having fae blood. I do believe they have some and this is the reason Darius as well as Orlando are so attracted to them. I do not believe there are any coincidences in this story.

    So, Rophelia is birthed. Pammie approves (especially since this will no doubt give the scenes authenticity with their natural heat in the scenes.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ms. Chick is a shameless potty mouth. 😉 Glad you approve. ❤

      If Graham had raised Rhys alone…yikes. But Rhys has definitely been influenced by his mom a lot, in both good and bad ways. He does try to keep his inappropriate thoughts in check.

      Ophelia is totally oblivious when it comes to dark, passionate romance for once. LOL. But she's definitely getting plenty of inspiration on the job… And you're right, Rhys would turn her, and then they'd be bound together for eternity that way.

      Ha, the instant attraction could more be Rhys having the same type as Graham…but this isn't the first time people have speculated that there's fae blood in the Lyons family. Hmmm.

      ROFL, a new ship! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That cracked me up when Ophelia began to improvise. Poor Rhys, not only does Gal make a farce out of the show (you would think she was Byron’s kid) Ophelia begins to go off script. Funny how Ms. Chick seems to like it them both. Does Gal know he took a cut to get her in the film? Hmmm.

    Devin is the camera man.❤️ Devin ❤️And that Camera. I was laughing so hard. HGR likes Ms. Chick…lmao….He’s never one to miss an opportunity.

    So Rhys and Ophelia…..perhaps they might indeed work. So much weirdness between the two of them. And she want looking at Finnlong term…FWB. She even told him to go after Benny so maybe. Except she ways to be a vampire.

    Trying to remember all of my ships…I wonder if she has any idea Rhys is Finns twin. I don’t think so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rhys didn’t seem to mind when Ophelia went off-script. 😉 ROFL, Gal as Byron’s kid… And no, she doesn’t know that Rhys took a pay cut for her. She’d probably yell at him if she knew.

      Of course HGR likes Ms. Chick. How could he not? 😉

      Rhys and Ophelia have the potential to create one really weird soup. …That sounds kind of gross, but still. If Finn had shown more passion (and turned her into a vampire), she’d have been happy to stay with him long-term, but alas…

      Rhys and Finn were actually born as twins in-game (and were accidents that I almost deleted, as I’ve mentioned–shhh), but for story purposes I say Rhys is about a year older than Finn. (Finn was make-up sex baby, as was Gal after a remarriage.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so interesting, I was wondering who Rhys might be paired up with but for some reason Ophelia never occurred to me. Thinking of it now they’re pretty perfect for each other with how dramatic they both are. I wonder if Rhys will ever get to act in something Ophelia’s written.

    Given how paranoid Isla seems to be about Rhys turning out like his father I’m curious to see how she’d react to finding out he’s taking a liking to Bianca’s daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As Gal said, there’s a seat for every toilet…! And Ophelia could be Rhys’s seat. …If he’s the toilet in this analogy–okay, I’m just going to stop now, rofl. But I’m sure he’d be happy to star in anything Ophelia wrote, especially if it won him some points with her.

      And that’s a good question about Isla…though the paranoia may lie more with Rhys than his mom. We’ll see more of Isla later though…!

      Like

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